Shh. Whisper it quietly, but 2022 has been a fairly “normal” year for the holiday park industry. It may seem strange to utter those words but by normal, of course, we mean it hasn’t been impacted (either positively or negatively) by Covid-19 to the extent 2020 and 2021 were.
That doesn’t mean to say that the political situation both at home and abroad as well as the cost of living crisis hasn’t influenced the sector’s performance to a certain extent this summer and autumn.
However, it’s the first time since 2019 that we can look at some figures and see just how the sector has fared compared to boon the year of 2021 in terms of interest, revenue and sales.
We looked at Google Analytics data from 70 holiday parks and campsites across the UK, from small independents to large groups, looking at website visitor numbers, booking numbers, revenue and sales enquiries, comparing from January 1st to September 27th against the same period in 2021.
The parks we looked at offered a very broad range of accommodation, touring and camping options, whilst only a handful were sales-only businesses. Around 35% of those analysed offered both sales and holidays together across their businesses.
Only five parks from those we analysed showed year-on-year growth with the remaining ranging from 4-40% down. On average, website traffic was down by 12%.
There was little regional correlations we could draw from the data, too. For example, parks in the same region of Scotland showed little similarities in website traffic numbers.
Like website traffic, very few parks posted year-on-year growth in terms of booking numbers; only three showed positive figures. On average, parks were 9% down versus 2021.
Revenue was similarly affected, again only three parks saw a growth in revenue from online bookings. Overall, revenue was down 13% against 2021 on average.
Many of you reading this will probably be thinking that it’s all fairly obvious – no real surprise, right? 2021 (and 2020 before it) were two excellent years on the whole for domestic tourism. After all, it was a captive market that, even though was restricted at various points, had little choice but to holiday in the UK – and the park sector reaped the rewards. 2022, therefore, was always going to be a big challenge, especially once Europe opened its doors to travellers from the UK.
The chaos at UK airports this summer and ensuing cancelled flights may well have helped rescue many businesses who were in line for a quiet peak summer holiday. However, we have seen generally that more expensive accommodation options have been snubbed in favour of cheaper choices, especially in the South West of England – this could be partly due to the rising cost of living, meaning people could not afford the extra fuel costs and chose to save where they could, whilst still wanting to get away.
This was not universally the case, of course, but is what we found generally and anecdotally from our clients in this sector.
A drop in organic traffic (that coming for free via search engines) was the main reason why many parks and campsites saw an overall decrease in website visitor numbers and, ultimately, bookings.
The table below shows just how big a drop a small section of popular industry keywords performed in 2022 against the same period in 2021 -> this is simply less people performing less searches.
|Average Monthly Searches in Google
|YoY Change Vs. 2021
|Caravan Holidays Cornwall
|Caravans For Sale Cornwall
|Caravans For Sale Devon
|Caravans For Sale Yorkshire
|Caravan Parks Scotland
|Glamping in Devon
|Glamping in Somerset
|Yorkshire Caravan Parks
|Skegness Caravan Parks
|North Wales caravan parks
|Caravans for sale North Wales
|North Wales campsites
|Lodges for sale Cornwall
2020 and 2021, like holidays, were very positive for holiday home sales. With pent-up demand fuelling a major surge in sales over the last two years, 2022 was always going to be a tougher market and it has proven to be almost across the board.
We have seen a drop of about 30% in website sales enquiries on average against the same period in 2021.
It is likely that 2023 will be a challenging year and businesses operating in the sector will need to make sure they are well placed to capture every last drop of interest and revenue they can.
If international travel continues to open up (and we don’t see a repeat of the chaotic scenes across major UK airports in summer 2023) then we can expect a large proportion of people to step onto a plane and travel aboard, perhaps for the first time in a few years.
At home, the cost of living crisis (fuel costs, rising interest rates) could continue to impact on what disposable income consumers have available and so cheaper, shorter breaks could well be the preferred route for domestic tourists in 2023.
With uncertainty surrounding 2023 now is the perfect time for holiday parks and campsites to get their ducks in a row. From websites to marketing plans, the next few months are the ideal time to make improvements and have a plan of action in place, ready to roll out in order to capture those all important early bookings and sales enquiries.
Need some help? Speak to the experts at Pitched on 01726 418118 or drop us a line and our team will get back to you with some advice and support.